CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Inmates, with bags carrying their belongings, walked out of the Caddo Correctional Center freely Wednesday morning. They were released following new criminal justice reform laws going into effect.
"A lot of them was happy to be going home, a lot of them said it was a long time coming," said Shreveport NAACP President Lloyd Thompson.
KSLA News 12 crews were there at 8:30 a.m. and report that about 20 inmates were released at once.
Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cindy Chadwick says they released a total of 51 inmates Wednesday.
The inmates were released in waves of five in five-minute intervals as were processed out, according to Chadwick.
Standing outside waiting, were not only the families of prisoners but Thompson.
"If a person did the time, they ought to have a second chance at life....many of the men that walk out of the door I say brother make the best of your second chance," Thompson said.
The Justice Reinvestment Act is made up of 10 bills passed by the Louisiana Legislature and signed by Governor John Bel Edwards in June, intended to change Louisiana's reputation as the most imprisoned state in the country.
The new laws, intended to reduce Louisiana's prison population by 10 percent over 10 years.
"I'm not saying that Shreveport is going to turn into Gotham city, I'm not saying that at all, I'm just saying that there are many things about this act that need to be revisited," said Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator.
Sheriff Prator has been vocal about his disapproval of the program.
"The public needs to know who is being released, they need to know that there are some violent people being released. That there are sex offenders being released, they need to know the truth about that," Prator said.
Thompson greeted the former inmates with this list of "felon friendly employers. It includes big-name companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, General Mills, and Tesla.
"It is so important that when someone comes out they identify, how they're going to support themselves… so if we can give them the tools they need to do better we got a better opportunity to keep them out on the street as free folks," Thompson said.
Now that they have been released, Thompson says the best thing the community can do is help them get back on their feet.
Chadwick says there were originally 68 inmates going to be released but 17 of them had holds and other charges so they weren't released.